Community members anted up ahead of the New Year at Troy’s Honey Badger Grill’s Texas Hold’em Tournament to help memorialize 7-year-old Jaxon Noble Parks.
Jaxon, a student at Peine Ridge Elementary in Wentzville, passed away in a mobile home fire in Moscow Mills over the Thanksgiving weekend. Soon after the accident, Honey Badger head cook Kara Mcghee, who’s a friend of Jaxon’s mother, spoke with restaurant owners Nick and Rachel Giacopelli about doing something for the family.
“Once we heard about it, we were obviously just devastated,” Nick said.
The tournament was held Dec. 30, and ended up raising $818 dollars for Jaxon’s family.
“I learned that I have no clue how to play poker, and that I am really bad at it,” Miranda Rose, Jaxon’s mom, said. “But it was a really good time and I feel like we had a decent turnout.”
Devin Parks, Jaxon’s father, said the event was held exactly a month after his son had passed.
“It devastated a lot of people,” Parks said. “My son, I can truthfully say that he touched a lot more people than I believe most people do in a lifetime, in such a short amount of years. Everybody remembers him for exactly what his personality was.”
Rose said the money raised at the tournament would be put towards building a buddy bench on the playground at Jaxon’s school, Peine Ridge Elementary in Wentzville. A buddy bench lets kids who are looking for a friend to play with sit down and signal they want a play partner.
“I think he [Jaxon] would love it, he would absolutely love it,” Rose said. “He was the weirdest little kid in the world, he had the biggest heart you will ever see in anybody, it was just amazing.”
Rose said Jaxon was “an old soul,” was gentle and was very loving.
“I just want to make sure that everybody knows that Jaxon was the coolest little kid, he really was, he was just amazing,” Rose said. “And I’m not even saying that because that’s my child, but he really was.
The family has also set up a yearly book drive with Peine Ridge in Jaxon’s memory.
“He loved to read, especially any books about superheroes and stuff like that,” Rose said.
Parks said he always read Jaxon comic books when he was young, and the 7-year-old turned into a huge Spiderman fan.
The community’s reaction and the support shown to Jaxon’s family has been “completely overwhelming” and humbling, Rose said, adding that it’s “refreshing to know that there’s still good people out there.”
“They care,” Rose said. “People really do care. We’ve had so many people just reaching out, ‘what can we do for you,’ ‘how can we help you,’ ‘we want to do this for Jaxon,’ or ‘we want to do this for you’ – it’s amazing.”
Rachel said it’s been a life dream of hers and Nick’s to help people through their business.
“We love poker, so this kind of marries a few loves of ours,” Rachel said.
“Tragedy happens a lot,” Nick added. “It’s a dark world out there and we’re just kind of wanting to try to be a light for anybody that’s dealing with anything like that.”
The poker tournament isn’t the only way people have helped – Baue Funeral Home donated the costs of the funeral expenses, and a GoFundMe raised over $15,000 for the family. Parks said he wanted to thank everyone that helped.
“I really think this is a way to show how a community came together and tried to do everything that they could do to help us out in any way that they could,” Parks said.